Saturday, February 28, 2009

Updates - fun + graduate school

It's been a while. Two main goals for this post: 1) fun things that have been happening. 2) the obligatory update on the grad school process.

Fun things first:

Earlier today I made a special watering can for my lovely baby bonsai tree. It needs quite frequent watering because the pot is pretty small, I keep it in a fairly sunny window, and the air in our house is dry. It doesn't deal well with pouring water on it - the H2O either runs right off, or causes a lot of erosion. I've been sprinkling with my fingers, but today I decided to make a special watering can for it. Requisite materials: 1 minute-maid orange juice bottle (plastic), a sturdy push pin, and a pair of hands. basically I push the push pin through the top cap of the OJ bottle a bunch of times in a whorl pattern, making little tiny holes. Now I can fill the bottle, and gently apply water to my tree without disturbing it! The wholes are just the right size too - small enough that barely any water comes out simply by turning the bottle upside down, due to adhesion/cohesion. But with a gentle squeeze, you can control how fast the water comes out, in a beautiful little shower.

My apologies if you're not into trees/plants, I'll move on now... ;-) Today was the first day in almost a month that I haven't be away at grad school interviews. I took full advantage of this fact (maybe even too much so) - I slept in, lounged in bed reading in the morning, talked with Eugenie on the phone for a good long while, made a delectable breakfast (herbed egg toast, with tomato and Canadian bacon), and then proceeded to spend pretty much the entire rest of the day reading. The sun was out, a not too frequent occurrence this time of year here, so all day long I switched around between chairs, following patches of sunlight around the house. It was lovvvely. Also, my housemate has been gone all day, so other than Eugenie, and a brief chat with my sister, I didn't have to see or talk to anyone all day. Sweat pants and my favorite old T-shirt allll the way. It was the perfect medicine for recovering from interview trips, which are very social, anti-sweat pants, and draining.

Other highlights of the preceding week - got to play soccer again (because of interviews I've missed games the last two weeks), crepes at a small Mardi Gras party, seminar Friday, submitting my abstract for ESA (and being told I might actually get funding for attending, something I hadn't planned on), and day-dreaming about a cross-country national park visiting bicycle trip (wistful sigh).

Grad school update:

I'm going to keep this brief; after I get back from my last interview (taking place over the next 3 days), I intend to sit down and lay all this out in detail to organize my thoughts.

Last weekend's visit was quite lovely. The school I interviewed at is the closest to home, Eugenie, and my old stomping grounds, of all the places I've applied to. And I could feel it - the terrain, the people, the countryside, even the grocery stores, were similar. This is very appealing to me, as I am really quite a bit of a home-body. I liked it much better than the private school in big city, for any number of reasons. Pretty campus. Friendly people. Close to farms with cows (not that I'm planning to interact with cows... that's Eugenie's department). The school/program is much bigger that private U, and all of the people I talked to were very excited about their science, and fun to converse with. Funding isn't as good. Advisor is much more laid back, has an established lab/tenure, and was interesting to talk with. The overall research focus of the lab is not what I'm interested in, but there are strong overlaps between the theory behind the work they do, and the technical skills, and the kinds of questions I want to study in Ecology, so it could probably work quite smoothly. Also, one of my potential labmates also enjoys swing dancing, and took me one of the nights I was there... fun! We'll see.

In brief, right now I have two explicit offers (detailing funding, etc) from schools, and a third in the mail apparently from the place I visited last weekend. Nothing from private U (i won't be surprised if I don't get an offer from them though - I think I'm not rabid enough for their program). That leaves only the school I'm visiting between tomorrow and Wednesday. Which by all accounts, and my background research, should be quite a lot of fun, and probably a good fit for me (similar in a lot of ways to where I was last weekend).

I'm sort of anticipating ending up with a 3-way tie for my preferred place to go, which is frightening. Private U is pretty much out. Southern state school could be cool, but their funding sounds pretty shakey compared to my other offers, and it'd be more of a gamble. That leaves 3 big state schools, one of which I work at now and like, one of which reminds me a lot of home, and one of which I'm anticipating will be the best academic/research fit for me. Gulp

More to come when I'm back from my last trip!


Labness said...

Just wanted to point out that there is no other bacon except Canadian. All else is vastly interior.

And congrats about the offers!

sarcozona said...

@Labness I'm rather partial to Irish bacon, actually.

Awesome watering can - I'm getting a bonsai soon and will probably have to make one too.

Enjoy your last interview :)